If Cats Spoke English

My cat Olive is sick. One day a few weeks ago, I noticed that her back legs were weak and she was sometimes sliding or walking bow-legged. There were no other signs that she was in pain. I thought that she might have diabetes, since that’s a common disease among older cats.

Well, her bloodwork came back fine, so the next step was to see a neurologist. The neurologist examined her and came to the conclusion that something is probably wrong with her spine; maybe a tumor is pressing on it.

But I’ll never know what is wrong with her, because it costs thousands of dollars to have an MRI done. I feel like a bad mom, but I don’t have that kind of money. What makes this decision a little less distressing are the facts that she is 17 years old and has lived a healthy life up until now. So, for now, I am giving her some medication that will help decrease inflammation.

She is acting normally otherwise, but I do wonder if she is in any pain. Cats are great at masking pain (an evolutionary trait). If only she spoke English, she could respond to my query, “What is your level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced.”

I’ve had Olive for almost her entire life. She’s a complicated girl (read: semi-feral and engages in unprovoked attacks), but she has been the best companion she could be. She’s like the family member who is sometimes a thorn in your side, but you love them anyway.

I’m enjoying every day I have left with her before she crosses the rainbow bridge.

cat sitting on counter at the vet

Olive at a vet appointment

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Bearded Dragons and Baking Bread

You know you’re too busy when you’re still reporting on things that you checked off the list in February…

My friend Abby and I intended to ride a zipline set up in a Boston park by a Kissimmee, Florida, tourist organization one February weekend. But when I arrived 15 minutes before it opened and the wait was already two hours, we settled for having our photo taken with a baby alligator and holding a lizard called a bearded dragon. I pleaded with the handler to refrain from putting a large snake around my neck. (However, the snake was surreptitiously slipped around Abby’s neck.)

holding a bearded dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was expecting the bearded dragon to be solid and rough, but it had a very soft underbelly. It was cute for a lizard.

And with no segue…I baked zucchini bread for the first time. My mom baked it once in a while when I was young so I feel nostalgic whenever I buy it at a cafe. I found her recipe for zucchini muffins (not bread, curiously) and spent a Sunday afternoon grating zucchini.

grated zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out SO GOOD. I’m adding it to my baking rotation now.

zucchini bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll be hearing from me again soon as I attempt to make up for lost time…

 

 

No Snow, No Problem

A couple of months ago, my friend Cindy asked if I would be interested in going dog sledding. I was unaware that such an activity existed in New England.

Obviously, I said yes. And that is how I found myself hanging out with 4 mushers and 24 huskies at a campground in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, a few weeks ago.

One of the teams

One of the teams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We chose to go on a one-hour tour with Valley Snow Dogz. The company is owned by Lidia, a lovely woman from Manchester, England. Her lovely husband, Richard, helps out and was quite the adventure photographer on the day of our tour. Kim and Kelly are lovely twin sisters who also help give the tours.

Before we started the tour, we were introduced to the three teams of eight dogs. The dogs—all Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Huskies—were beautiful and SO sweet and gentle. Some even liked to give hugs.

There was little to no snow on the ground, so instead of sledding, we sat on the back of ATVs for our tour. The dogs were hooked up to the front of the ATVs.

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When we met them, they didn’t make a peep, but as soon as they started getting hooked up, one by one, they started barking in an excited chorus. Luckily it was a sunny day and the temperature wasn’t terribly cold. We took all kinds of windy paths in the campground. The “musher” would give commands when she wanted the team to turn left or right. Sometimes they were confused, but one of the “leader” dogs eventually got it right and led us in the right direction.

I expressed my surprise at how hard the dogs were working, but Lidia assured me that this is what they are bred for. They thrive in temperatures below freezing and heat is released through their paws, so they never get too cold.

Action shot of Kim and me (courtesy of Richard Dale-Mesaros)

Action shot of Kim and me (courtesy of Richard Dale-Mesaros)

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the tour, we said our farewells to the dogs and chatted with the mushers a bit. Their enthusiasm and passion for their work was a joy to witness, and I found it inspiring. Next year, I hope to try dog sledding

Cindy gets a kiss from a friend

Cindy gets a kiss from a friend

 

 

 

Saturday and Tuesday

Thanksgiving is nigh! I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy taking time to ponder what you’re grateful for and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

If you participate in the events on Friday and Monday (that shall not be named), best of luck to you. I hope you will also participate in Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday:

On Saturday, visit your favorite small business to buy some one-of-a-kind gifts.

On Tuesday, donate to your favorite charity. Why not make a donation in a family member/friend’s name and give that as a gift this season? I’m adopting a wild animal and buying a share of an animal for my family this year. Or you can pledge to donate some time this season. Visit Volunteer Match to find opportunities near you.

Listen to these smart people:

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

“For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi

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Lake Cruises, Forests, and Bears, Oh My!

At the end of May, Mom and I went to the Adirondacks to celebrate our milestone birthdays. Even though I grew up in New York, I had never been to the Adirondacks.

We spent three nights in the area, so I chose three items for the birthday list.

#36: Took a cruise on Lake George.

Mom prefers to stay on land, so I took a solo morning cruise on the Minne Ha-Ha. It was a bit chilly but sunny. There are 3,000+ lakes in the Adirondacks!

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Steam calliope

Steam calliope!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of many "summer camps" aka mansions on the lake

One of many “summer camps” aka mansions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#37: Visited the Adirondack Museum.

This is an amazing museum! It’s a whole campus with different exhibits housed in different buildings. Visitors can learn about the area’s logging history, camping history, boating history, and recreational history. We spent a few hours there and could have easily spent the entire day there. I’ll definitely return if I find myself in the Adirondacks again. (I hope I do.)

I was especially interested in the logging exhibit because my second great-grandfather was a well-known log driver in central Pennsylvania. It was a dangerous job back then!

Log jam!

Log jam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A typical hunting camp

A typical hunting camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mohawk basketry exhibit

Mohawk basketry exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#38. Saw a black bear.

Mom and I left the Adirondack Museum around 5:00 pm. It is an hourlong drive from Lake George on two-lane highways. We were about 20 minutes into the trip back when we came upon a serious car accident. We ended up having to turn around to take the only other route that would bring us back to Lake George, which was two hours out of the way. We were pretty frazzled and worried about the people who were involved in the accident. We stopped at a gas station for dinner (hot dogs) and to buy a printed map, since we only had verbal directions from an emergency crew worker to go on.

So we’re driving along. We drive by deer crossing signs, which works Mom up because she’s had some deer run-ins before. Then we see a bear crossing sign and have a chuckle. Really, bears?

And it wasn’t too long until, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a large four-legged animal loping off the road into the ditch. Um, it was a black bear that seemed to come out of nowhere. I chirped, “Mom? Was that just a bear?”

“Yes,” she chirped back. Lots of sighing and gasping ensued. The next day, we went shopping in Lake George and noticed that many of the stores had entire black bear figurine sections. So we each decided to buy one to commemorate our first-ever black bear sighting.

The Adirondacks is a great getaway and I hope to return someday. Have you been?

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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